We have been observing an alarming number of patients presenting to the clinic who have been placed on "forced exercise bike" programs by personal trainers. Often the trainers are pushing the Parkinson's disease patients to pedal at 90 revolutions per minute or higher. Parkinson's disease patients should be aware that this disease is not a "one size fits all." It may be ok for select early Parkinson's disease patients in outstanding physical health to immediately be pedaling this fast, however for many patients this level of intensity could be inappropriate. Many Parkinson's patients may not be able to achieve this level even with training. Recent evidence from an exercise trial by Lisa Shulman indicated that the highest levels of intensity may actually not have been the best.
Taking all of the available evidence into consideration, we have been recommending that patients interface with their doctors and start at lower revolutions per minute programs (40-60rpm) and work their way up to a pace that is comfortable and reasonable for their body.
Forced exercise seems to help some patients in recent studies and I paste a recent abstract below:
Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2011 Oct;39(4):177-86. doi: 10.1097/JES.0b013e31822cc71a.
It is not about the bike, it is about the pedaling: forced exercise and Parkinson's disease.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Center for Neurological Restoration, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 9500 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44195, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Forced exercise has resulted in neuroprotective effects and improved motor function in animal studies. These promising results have not yet been translated fully to humans with Parkinson's disease (PD), as traditional exercise interventions have not yielded global improvements in function. A novel forced exercise intervention is described that has resulted in improved motor function and central nervous system function in PD patients.